Joseph Freed & Associates LLC
Sullivan Center Restoration
Berglund played a key role in preserving one of Chicago’s historic landmark buildings, a massive complex of nine interconnected buildings totaling 1‑million-sqft.
  • Project Type
    • Restoration
  • Status
  • Delivery Method
    • Construction Management At-Risk
  • Services
  • Location
    • Chicago, IL
  • Duration
    • 11 Months
  • Size
    • 200,000 sqft
  • Architect
    • Harboe Architects

Project Overview

The Sullivan Center is one of Chicago's recognized and historic architectural landmarks. Berglund's historical preservation effort at the nine-building, 1-million-sqft complex included two components.

The first and primary work scope included extensive cast iron storefront restoration work at the original Louis Sullivan-designed 12-story building in the complex. The second work scope involved historical preservation work at three other buildings in the complex: The Haskell, Barker and Atwater Buildings.

The Haskell and Barker Buildings were designed by Wheelock and Thomas and built together in 1875. The Atwater Building was built in 1877 and designed by Chicago’s first architect, John Mills van Osdel.


For the cast iron storefront restoration work scope, we laser scanned the facade to document the existing conditions. Before carefully removing the entire historic storefront — which consisted of thousands of pieces of cast iron — our team identified and cataloged each individual piece. The cast iron pieces were stripped clean of paint coatings, previous repair filler materials and corrosion.

Then we assessed the pieces for damage and either repaired or replaced them. We coated each piece with zinc and paint to match the original color and finish. Our careful documentation allowed for the re-installation of each piece in its original place.

As part of the storefront restoration, Berglund carpenters performed the delicate task of removing all historic interior millwork and paneling at the exterior wall for assessment. We restored and reinstalled as much of the historic woodwork as possible. If a piece of wood was damaged beyond repair, Berglund procured new trim that matched the profile of the original for re-installation. We also oversaw the replacement of all the glazing at the first and second floors.

Berglund’s restoration work at the other three buildings included removing layers of paint to restore original masonry and cast iron, reconstructing the missing Atwater Building cornice, and reconstructing missing stone and metal belt courses.

One of the most exciting aspects of the project involved a sig­nif­i­cant discovery. During con­struc­tion, Berglund trades­peo­ple uncovered two pre­vi­ous­ly unknown Sullivan designs.


One of the most exciting aspects of the project involved a significant discovery. During construction, Berglund tradespeople uncovered two previously unknown Sullivan designs — one at the Haskell building and one at the Barker Building. Researchers determined that in 1896, Louis Sullivan renovated the lower two floors of the Barker Building in cast iron with his unique style of ornamentation. These Sullivan designs were covered with metal paneling in 1930 and discovered during the project when the panels were removed during construction.

At the Haskell building a similar Sullivan design was uncovered, which researchers dated back to 1903. Our work included restoring these newly discovered Sullivan designs at the Haskell and Barker buildings.

From the Team
Jack Tribbia

This project demon­strates our ability to undertake complex, intricate historic preser­va­tion projects that require the coor­di­na­tion of a diverse set of skills, knowledge and abilities.”

President, Restoration Division